Graveyard Shift 12 Ghostly Stories and Mysterious Urban Legends from Arkansas  

Lyra Radford
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Arkansas is full of spooky urban legends, with more than its fair share of ghosts and creature sightings. It’s a state rich with dark history, lonely small towns, and dense woods, making it the ideal environment for the birth of many myths. The Boggy Creek monster originated here, as did the famous White River Monster. 

Arkansas shares the town of Texarkana with the state of Texas, which means it also shares the stomping grounds of the Phantom Killer. The film The Town That Dreaded Sundown was based on the real-life “Texarkana Moonlight Murders” that began in 1946 and remain unsolved to this very day. Collected in this list are some creepy Arkansas tales of eerie ghosts, mysterious creatures, and terrifying killers that have inspired campfire tales for generations.

The Texarkana Moonlight Murders Gave Birth to the Hook Man Legend


The Texarkana Moonlight Murder... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 12 Ghostly Stories and Mysterious Urban Legends from Arkansas
Photo: Matt Peoples/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Perhaps the most famous campfire tale is “The Hook”. There are a few variations of this tale, but it always starts with a young couple parking in an isolated area, usually referred to as a “lover’s lane” or  “make-out point.” They hear a news bulletin on the radio about an escaped mental patient or murderer with a hook for a hand on the loose in the area.

Some variations say the girl wants to leave, so the couple returns immediately, but when they get out of the car at their destination, they discover a bloody hook stuck in one of the car doors.

Other variations say the couple stays, then the guy leaves to relieve himself in the woods and never comes back. The girl begins hearing scraping sounds on the roof and exits the car to find her date butchered and hanging upside down from a tree, his fingers scraping the roof. This tale is traced back to 1950 and is believed to have originated from the real-life “Moonlight Murders” that plagued Texarkana in 1946.

The mysterious Moonlight Murders had the town of Texarkana dreading sundown. Curfews were instituted and police on both the Arkansas and Texas side of the border spent sleepless nights hunting the elusive “Phantom Killer.” They had no idea what he looked like, even though the first two victims survived the attack. The killer wore a bag over his head with eye holes cut out, and killed young couples parked in their cars at night. The killings stopped as quickly as they started, and the killer's identity was never discovered. 

The Elusive White River Monster Is Protected by State Law


The Elusive White River Monste... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 12 Ghostly Stories and Mysterious Urban Legends from Arkansas
Photo: texas_mustang/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

Newport, Arkansas, was booming with monster sightings along the White River from 1915 until about 1924. Locals called the snake-like creature “Whitey." It was allegedly about 30 feet long, with a spiny backbone. Whitey had a tendency to hang out for around 10 minutes on the surface making bellowing sounds before returning to the depths.

Whitey took a bit of a hiatus sometime in 1924, with the exception of a few random sighting here and there, he didn’t really resurface until 1937. This resurgence prompted locals to try capturing him with nets - they even went out on scuba diving missions, but failed to capture this elusive creature of legend. 

All this hunting only made Whitey take off again - there wasn’t another sighting until 1971. One grainy black and white photo (with no discernible monster in sight) taken by Cloyce Warren is the only “hard evidence” that Whitey even exists. Arkansas State legislators took the photo as proof enough. Senator Robert Harvey created the White River Monster Refuge, which extends along the White River in the area running adjacent to the Jacksonport State Park. Arkansas legislators even passed a law making it illegal to "molest, kill, trample, or harm the White River Monster while he is on the retreat."

The Boggy Creek Monster Reached Right Through a Window to Attack His Victim


The Boggy Creek Monster Reache... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 12 Ghostly Stories and Mysterious Urban Legends from Arkansas
Photo: rwoan/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0

According to the people of Fouke, Arkansas, their town was the first place that this 300-pound beast (also called the Fouke Monster) was spotted back in 1834. Described as a wild man running loose in Arkansas, the Boggy Creek Monster is covered in thick hair and stands eight feet tall, upright on two feet. Sightings continued to increase all throughout the 1900s. There were over 40 separate sightings in 1997 alone, and another in broad daylight 2000, even though the creature is believed to be nocturnal.

At least four films were inspired by the legend of the Boggy Creek Monster. The film released in 1973 was based on a real-life report from Bobby and Elizabeth Ford in 1971. They claimed that the Boggy Creek Monster attacked their home one night, and actually reached through the screen of one of their windows. Bobby and his brother Dan thought they chased the beast off, but it came right back just after midnight and attacked Bobby, throwing him to the ground before running off. Bobby was rushed to St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana with large gashes across his back, suffering shock.

Newspapers covering the sightings at the time reported that an investigation of the home revealed scratches on the porch and significant damage to the window and the side of the house. In the yard were three-toed footprints.

Skeptics claim that some Boggy Creek Monster sightings might actually be black bears rearing up on their hind legs.

The Animal-Like Ghost of the Cruel Dog Boy Haunts Quitman, Arkansas


The Animal-Like Ghost of the C... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 12 Ghostly Stories and Mysterious Urban Legends from Arkansas
Photo: TomSpinker/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

In Quitman, Arkansas, the house at 65 Mulberry is said to be haunted by “Dog Boy,” also known as Gerald Bettis. Bettis earned the name “Dog Boy” for his disturbing habit of collecting animals from around the neighborhood to torture and kill. He was known as a vicious and cruel kid, and as he aged, he became more and more aggressive towards his parents. He was so abusive to his elderly mother that she finally had to be placed with adult protective services. Some believed Bettis even killed his own father, who was rumored to have died from a broken neck after an “accidental” tumble down the stairs. Based on his mother’s testimony against him as well as charges of growing and selling marijuana, Bettis was sent to prison and was found dead of a drug overdose in the mid-90s.

Currently, Gerald’s spirit is believed to be the source of poltergeist activity reported in his former home. His spirit is most often seen in an addition to the house where Gerald was said to have kept the animals he brutalized. Witnesses have claimed the six-foot-four, 300-pound man is now taking on animal-like features in death. He’s still huge, but shaggy, with cat-like eyes. His ghost has also been seen glaring out the front window at people, and one witness claimed he came after them on all fours down the street.